What We Can Do
Principally we help you get a surer grip on your computer systems.
We want your computer/information system to run with as little notice as possible. People should not be interrupted during their work to deal with recurrent, annoying, inexplicable problems. However, the day when a computer will be taken out of a box, connected to a network and be ready to run with little else is still a long way off. In the meantime we try to:
We help you inventory your hardware and software, and keep it current. We want you to know your costs, and to be able to plan replacements, upgrades and repairs. We insist that you legally own the software you are using, and won't be able to help solve problems where illegal software is involved.
We want you to simplify. Ten computers times 30 programs is 300 windows to trouble. What is being used? Is it the most up-to date? Do you have a system for keeping up to date? Are there any "personal choice" programs on company computers?
We want people to have responsibility and knowledge to do routine replacement and maintenance. Who replaces printer toner? Who inventories it? Who orders it? Who keeps track of subscription software? Is there a "How to Install" spread sheet? Who keeps it up to date?
We like to see a central place to store histories, troubleshooting tips, install notes. We want someone in the company to work with us to keep it current, and in circulation.
We do not believe a consultant can promise or provide flawlessly running computer systems by appearing at your offices once a month, or even once a week. In order to maintain close to trouble-free computers a team must be put in place, consisting of in-house users and experts, and outside consultants.
Someone in the firm must be the first line person. It is this person who sees and hears about the day-to-day problems and successes of the computers and software. It is this person who must document problems: when they happen; what is the context; what is the work-around. This person also works with the consultant when he or she comes in. The staff liaison must be given the time and status within the firm to deal with the level of problems that arise. This means that he or she cannot have another constantly more pressing job. For example, it is extremely difficult to be both the in-house computer liaison and the managing partner's right-hand assistant. The person designated to do this must also have the inclination and aptitude to do computer work. They must build their understanding and vocabulary of computers. They must work with the consultants to be able to quickly and accurately describe problems and solutions. Resistance to new technology and/or unwillingness to try possible solutions are not good qualifications.
Within the company individuals other than your first line person may be a resource for one or another program. A general consultant such as Computers in Plain English, Inc, provides can not know all the ins and outs of all programs. Training and particularized knowledge must reside within the company - and there should always be a backup person. It may seem like time wasted to train more than one, but believe us, it is not!
Guarantees and Trust
We do not guarantee solutions to every problem, only that we will devote our best energies, experience and mental capacity to the task at hand. We do guarantee that we will keep you informed along the way. Some seemingly trivial problems may take longer than any of us would like and we will discuss such occurrences with you. We understand that where there seem to be no hard and fast solutions, uneasiness may arise; you may feel someone else could do the work better. From our point of view, it is your business and though we may disagree with you and feel we are doing as well as anyone could, if you feel that someone else can solve your problem better than we can, you should engage that person as soon as possible and let us go. More than many other professional relationships, that with a computer consultant is based on trust; if that trust founders, it is unlikely that a daily listing of minutia in the troubleshooting will set anyone at ease. If the trust is gone, we feel the relationship must end.
As a part of guaranteeing that trust we feel that all clients should pay for the software they are using. While we don't want to be software police and won't spend our idle moments ensuring you are in license compliance, we will remind you that you should be in compliance. Software we buy on your behalf will only be installed as licensed, and we will never respond positively to a suggestion that we install one program on many computers. Frankly, there is some suspicion that a firm which would cheat one might cheat another; or that if we were to cheat for the firm, we might also cheat against the firm. It is mucky ground and we prefer to stay off of it.
Computers in Plain English, Inc.